Amid unrest and turmoil across the country, FL’s private historically black colleges get a major boost in state dollars

Bethune-Cookman University campus. Credit: Bethune-Cookman Facebook

At a time of protests, concerns about racism and an evolving Black Lives Matter movement across the nation, three private historically Black colleges in Florida are getting millions more to propel achievement and help retain struggling students.

Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

“The funding will help advance academics, research and education of students at Florida’s HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities),” Gov. Ron DeSantis said at a news conference at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach.

“This is an important part of Florida’s history.”

With Florida’s new 2020-21 budget launching Wednesday, Bethune-Cookman gets $16.9 million, up from $13 million the year before.

Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens receives $7 million, up from 3.5-million, and Edward Waters College in Jacksonville gets 6.4 million, up from 3.5 million.

The new funding adds up to $30.4 million for the three schools.

“As it came time to present the budget for fiscal year 2020-21, we put a real historic amount of support for HBCUs…we also understand some of our private HBCUs play a really important role for expanding opportunities,” DeSantis said.

University presidents from Bethune-Cookman University, Edward Waters College and Florida Memorial University thanked the Republican governor for his support.

DeSantis said State Rep. James Bush III, a Democrat representing part of Miami-Dade, was instrumental in getting HBCU funding into the budget. Bush, who is a Bethune-Cookman graduate and was at the news conference, declared DeSantis as a “friend to HBCUs” for approving the funds.

“What you have done today, you have now put yourself and written yourself in the history books of black history,” Bush said.

Edward Waters College President A. Zachary Faison, Jr., said in the news conference that many of the students who attend Edward Waters stop attending because of “financial difficulties.”

“This is going to enable literally thousands and thousands of our students to remain in our institution and even those who have left, we can now reclaim them because of this additional support,” Faison said.

Edward Waters plans to use the funds to bring on new academic programs, “This is truly a transformative investment for Edward Waters College,” Faison said.